Former Black Cats skipper Kevin Ball laced up his boots once again to celebrate the opening of a new Durham University sports pitch.
The ex-Sunderland captain, who played nearly 350 games for the club, joined an ‘All Stars’ team for an exhibition match against a Collingwood XI on the new rubber crumb surface at Collingwood College in Durham City.
Also in the All Stars’ ranks were Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University; Quentin Sloper, Director of the University’s Experience Durham; Peter Warburton, Dean of Experience Durham; and Professor Joe Elliott, Principal of Collingwood College.
The match was watched by a crowd of several hundred people and there was pre-match and half-time entertainment from Collingwood Music Society and student band The Lost Degree.
After a lively and light-hearted encounter, the Collingwood XI emerged victorious in the match.
Prof Elliott said: “It was a fantastic event and the game was played in great spirit – it had a real community and family feel.
“It was a valiant effort by the All Stars but youth had its day.”
The new £580,000 pitch has been funded primarily by former Collingwood College students.
Prof Elliott added: “We’re very grateful to the many friends and alumni who have helped with this new development, and it was great to have the Vice-Chancellor and so many senior members of the University here to support this event.
“As well as our various sports clubs, we’re hoping that some of the children’s teams in the county will have an opportunity to use the facilities here.”
Collingwood College is hoping to top the Durham University college sport points table for the sixth consecutive year.
The college has 12 men’s and two women’s football teams.
Prof Elliot said: “I’m very proud of how high the participation rates are for sport at Collingwood.
“With this new pitch we can keep going from strength to strength.”